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Dive into the story: best practices for implementing storytelling in e-learning videos

Jan, 05, 2024
Christina
Christina
Senior Account Executive

Introduction

Everyone who has delivered lectures at least once knows how hard it can be to keep students’ attention. Distractions, lack of engagement, and the constant pull of tablets and smartphones seem to constantly get in the way, making it quite challenging to ensure effective e-learning. That’s where storytelling for video e-learning comes to the rescue.

Storytelling in video education has the power to captivate, connect, and communicate with learners in a way that traditional lectures often struggle to do. The best thing is, it has the power to stick in memory and inspire students to learn. After all, is there anyone who doesn’t like stories? We all love them. They leave lasting impressions on us, making educational material much more engaging and memorable.

👉 In this article, we’ll tell you about the impact of video e-learning storytelling. Based on our experience, we’ll also share a few e-learning video storytelling techniques that work particularly well. Let’s jump right into it. 

Table of Contents

  1. Why Storytelling Works in e-Learning Videos
  2. Elements of Effective Storytelling in e-Learning Videos
  3. 2024 Best Practices for Storytelling in e-Learning Videos
  4. How Blue Carrot Can Help Your Business
  5. Conclusion

Why Storytelling Works in e-Learning Videos

There are many reasons why storytelling works in e-learning videos. However, one of the most important is emotions. The study Developing a Framework for Advancing E-learning through Digital Storytelling (Dakich, Eva. “Developing a Framework for Advancing E-Learning through Digital Storytelling.” Academia.Edu, 2010) shows that videos triggering emotions are more likely to be remembered and have a lasting impact. Moreover, that very same study also revealed that video storytelling activates more parts of the brain compared to text-based materials, highlighting the effectiveness of video stories in learning.

Aside from emotions, stories evoke curiosity. Remember the last book you couldn’t put down because of its gripping narrative? The magic behind it was the story. It’s the book’s narrative that encourages people to keep reading until they finally find out what happens in the end. Engaging stories can make even the most boring material come alive, and that’s precisely why storytelling is a potent tool in e-learning videos.

In addition, stories work well because people subconsciously relate themselves to them. If the story resonates with their own experiences, challenges, or aspirations, it strengthens the connection between the learner and the content, making it personal and relatable.

Finally, stories are much easier to remember than facts. According to the research work of Schoenmaker and Stanchev, 70% of the information people learn throughout their lives is the result of visual perception, which goes to show the remarkable impact video stories have on memory retention and recall.

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Elements of Effective Storytelling in e-Learning Videos

Effective video-based e-learning storytelling involves more than just a good plot. It requires a combination of elements to ensure the narrative engages, educates, and appeals to the audience. Here are the key elements to consider when crafting a compelling e-learning video story:

📌 Purpose

Before anything is created, the purpose must be identified. What use does e-learning offer to learners in particular? What specific learning outcomes or objectives are you aiming to achieve? It’s important to define the purpose of creating a story so that it delivers value to users and evokes the right emotions.

📌 Narrative

Generally, depending on the goals of a video, there can be three narrative structures:

  • Linear. This structure presents information in a sequential, straightforward manner, making it suitable for foundational knowledge or step-by-step learning like guides and instructions.
  • Non-linear. The non-linear offers flexibility, allowing learners to explore content in their preferred order. It’s best suited for e-learning scenarios where learners have varying levels of prior knowledge or specific interests.
  • Intersecting narrative. The distinguishing feature of this narrative structure is that it weaves multiple storylines together. This approach can be engaging for advanced learners or when studying related topics.

Besides structures, digital stories can be classified into three main types — personal, historical documentary, and instruction stories. Let’s briefly cover each of them. 

  • Personal narrative refers to stories that describe events in the narrator’s personal life. This narrative often has a linear structure, where events follow each other in a particular order. A lot of students prefer this type of digital storytelling because they learn from other people’s experiences, making the content easily relatable.
  • Historical documentaries are created using bibliographic materials, photos, videos, and other historical records. They aim to present a factual account of historical events, eras, or figures, providing an educational resource for learners interested in history and research.
  • Instruction stories focus on guiding the audience through specific processes or imparting knowledge on particular topics.

These are the main types of narratives that can be used to build an engaging digital story. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be mixed to achieve a stronger effect on audiences. Drawing on our own experience, mixing these methods can also deliver a powerful blend that evokes strong emotions and encourages learners to explore various aspects of the subject matter.

📌 Plot

Another important element of a story is the plot. The plot is the backbone of the storytelling in video educating materials. It comprises the sequence of events, actions, and developments that drive the narrative forward. Well-structured plots should have engaging story arcs that grip the audience’s attention right from the start.

📌 Character

The heart and soul of any story are the characters. They provide the human element that learners can connect with and relate to. Therefore, one of the most important steps after creating a purpose is to design characters that captivate attention and help create a more inclusive learning environment.

📌 Emotional Content

Finally, as we’ve mentioned earlier, the content must offer emotional engagement to hit the right notes with the audience. Emotions deepen the impact of your storytelling and create a more immersive learning experience by connecting with learners on a personal level.

2024 Best Practices for Storytelling in e-Learning Videos

Let’s move from theory to practice. In this section, we’ll show you how to integrate storytelling into e-learning videos that act like a magnet, naturally drawing learners in.

📌 Adaptive storytelling

Perhaps, the biggest mistake course designers make when building their stories is that their narratives are based on the ‘average need’ of the ‘average user’. However, the focus should be shifted toward adaptive storytelling — a technique that revolves around tailoring stories to particular groups of learners.

Today there’s no one-size-fits-all scenario that fits everyone, and offering a single narrative won’t go far. To produce the desired outcomes, e-learning videos should adapt to each learner’s needs and preferences. In doing so, you can ensure that the content will be engaging and relevant, catering to diverse learning styles and abilities.

📌 The Grand Argument

To structure the story as a cohesive unit, it has to come with a solid foundation that every other aspect of a story is built around. The practice, often referred to as ‘The Grand Argument’ in storytelling, encapsulates the central message or theme, expressing a universal truth, moral or societal insight. It serves as the narrative’s core, guiding characters’ development, plot progression, etc.

The closest example of ‘The Grand Argument’ in narrative would be the film series ‘The Matrix’ where the storyline revolves around the consequences caused by technologies and the struggle for liberation from a simulated world.

This main idea shapes the characters and aligns with the story’s events and overall setting. Its purpose is to engage the audience intellectually and emotionally, urging them to reflect on real-life experiences. An effective ‘Grand Argument’ unifies the story’s elements, providing not only a logical but also an emotional narrative that resonates with learners in different ways.

📌 Microlearning

Another good approach to creating engaging digital stories in e-learning videos is microlearning. This is a strategy that implies breaking down a large story into smaller ones, making it easier for learners to absorb information. By breaking long videos into shorter sessions, not only can you boost engagement rates, but you can also accommodate a larger group of people, including those with busy schedules who are always on the run.

📌 Gamification

Gamification continues to be a powerful tool for digital storytelling in e-learning video. By incorporating game elements such as points, badges, challenges, and quizzes, e-learning videos can transform the learning process into an engaging and enjoyable adventure. Gamification not only motivates learners but also fosters healthy competition and a sense of achievement.

📌 Cultural Relevance

You need to ensure that e-learning videos are created with cultural relevance in mind and reflect the backgrounds and perspectives of learners from that particular region or part of the world you create the content for. Acknowledging and respecting cultural differences not only enhances engagement but also promotes a sense of inclusivity and understanding among learners from various backgrounds.

GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLAINER VIDEOS: TYPES, BUDGETS, STYLES

How Blue Carrot Can Help Your Business

If you’re looking to create an effective e-learning video but don’t have experience in writing e-learning video scripts, don’t fret. Our company can help you with the production of engaging scenarios that appeal to your target audience and drive your company’s growth. We’ve got years of experience crafting animated story-based videos targeting diverse groups of learners across various industries. Here is a sampling of our work:

📌 Because We Care NGO

One of our whiteboard explainer videos was made for the ‘We Care, Take Action’ organization. The mission of this organization is to mobilize donations for those who have experienced devastating losses due to wildfires. The owner of the company wanted to create a video within a week, which, at first, seemed unrealistic. Our team not only met the ambitious timeline but also ensured that we stayed well within the established budget.

📌 Antibiotics

A 2-minute long educational video that explains the peculiarities of antibiotic use. In the video we demonstrate how antibiotics work and the situations in which they’re most often used. Despite being a go-to solution, though, using antibiotics too much can cause problems. To make this clear, we made the video emotional and relatable, showing how overusing antibiotics can lead to devastating outcomes. The video utilizes a mix of cutout, morphing, and traditional animation.

📌 White Glove

Our team created a 30+ minute e-learning video for a client in the logistics field who was looking to develop a comprehensive white-glove last-mile certificate course. The course utilized flat 2D animation for simplicity and cost-effectiveness, catering to a specific audience defined by the client. We adapted the animation to an existing voice-over text and added Spanish localization. The production, spanning 4 months, involved a screenwriter, illustrator, motion designer, producer, and localization experts for English and Spanish.

Conclusion

Storytelling is a powerful tool to drive engagement and retention rates. People love stories because they feel alive, unlike dry facts, statistics, and numbers. What’s more, they are easier to remember due to the natural properties of the human brain to better perceive visual information. All this makes visual storytelling so important in e-learning videos.

However, creating infographics and character-driven content can be quite daunting, especially if you’re new to this field. It’s important to understand your audience and adapt your narrative to different needs. Video scenarios must be structured the right way, too, which requires a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Hopefully, with the tips we’ve provided in this article, your journey into e-learning video storytelling will be a lot easier.

On the other hand, if you need to launch a video product quickly, and you’d rather entrust the production to a team of professionals, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We’ll create a good story that will help your video achieve the goals set!

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FAQ

How is storytelling used in e-learning?

Storytelling in e-learning involves the use of narrative-driven scripts, role-playing experiences, and gripping plots to convey educational content compellingly and engagingly. It helps learners connect with the material emotionally, making it more memorable and relatable. Storytelling can be applied through various narrative structures, such as linear, non-linear, or intersecting, to suit the learning objective and diverse audience preferences.

What characters are most loved by learners?

There’s no one answer to this question because learner preferences for characters can vary widely, but relatable and well-developed characters tend to be the most loved. These involve characters who face challenges, show growth, and encounter situations common to the learner’s experiences. That being said, the choice of characters must align with the specific context and objectives of the e-learning content to tie the whole story together.

How long does it take to create a video story?

The time required to create a video story depends on several factors, including the complexity of the content, the length of the video, the availability of resources, and the level of interactivity. Generally, a well-crafted e-learning video may take only a couple of days to a few months to complete. It’s essential to plan and allocate sufficient time for scriptwriting, illustrations, animation, and QA checks.

How does storytelling enhance video e-learning content?

Storytelling enhances video e-learning content in several ways. First, it increases interest in the video by attracting students’ attention with engaging material that looks and feels alive. Also, it makes the learning material more memorable, which increases its value in the long run. Stories evoke emotions. When people watch stories, they subconsciously relate themselves to the described events, fostering a deeper connection with the material. What’s more, stories can explain complex things more simply by breaking down long pieces into focused, easy-to-digest sections.

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